University of Edinburgh actually has a long history of widening participation initiatives, but our institutional memory does seem to get lost along the way. Luckily we have splendid university archives.
‘The WOW programme was aimed at women planning to return to work –most often after pregnancy and years of domestic ‘employment’–, and sought to provide training opportunities as well as guidance over how to approach the job market, what type of opportunities might be available, and what obstacles may be encountered.’
Joanna first attended this programme, after having been stuck at home with us lot for many years, and then she became the course leader. I used to visit her in her office in a basement in Buccleuch Place. She’s very pleased to know that in my role in ISG I’ve been able to find places for ‘women returners‘ in our organisation.
After ‘WOW ‘and ‘Second Chance to Learn’, and ‘Return to Work or Study’, she then led for many years the University of Edinburgh Access Programme for part-time adult learners who wished to return to education to study humanities, social sciences or art and design.
Nice to see these things coming around again.
*just a note to say lest you be concerned, that although I found my father in the archives after his death, my mother is still very much alive.
As I’m sure you are aware, we have been telegraphing high profile STEM career case studies of women who work in ISG on our LinkedIn site.
In posting these case studies our goal is clear: We want to provide our current workforce with an inclusive, fair environment in which they feel valued, creative and empowered, and we hope that others will be attracted to work with us in continuing to thrive, learn and research.
There are now so many interesting, creative, rewarding and glamourous jobs available to women who chose a technology career. By not realising this our young ( and grown) women in Scotland are missing a trick. The sector is booming and there’s no good reason why all these benefits should go to men. Tech employers are keen to attract more women and greater diversity to their teams.
My advice to women looking to start a career in IT would be to look for job adverts which highlight the opportunities to be creative and to learn. Choose an employer who will value and train you in the workplace and empower you to develop further in your career.
The 2018 STEM careers case studies are: Kirsty, Gina, Sonia, Janet, Marissa, Dominique and me.
The conference was really interesting, and quite political. Lots of talk of combatting fake news and a keynote from the ACLU. It was also quite a diverse conference, I thought, and the topic of diversity came up again and again. A lot of people thinking very hard about the sheer scale of getting ‘everyone’ involved in open knowledge.
I mused* on 2 things:
Someone presented some research indicating that women who contribute to Wikipedia do not only edit on ‘women’s topics’ or female biographies. That was not a shock as women, notoriously, are interested in all kinds of topics. But it does mean that getting more female editors does not automatically increase the coverage of our under represented bios.
There was some interesting findings with regard to images. It seems that the images available in Wikimedia Commons to represent people in roles and professions disproportionately portray men in those roles. Even when the profession in question is traditionally female dominated.
The connection between these two I think, must draw upon the same theory of ‘unconscious bias’ as our recruitment training does. Men and women both tend to think that men are more appropriate in professional roles, and more notable for biographies. Unconsciously, even when we pay attention, we may fall foul of our bias.
Much inspired by it all, I return to my main hobby of creating and improving women’s bios. This week I wrote about Prunella Briance, founder of the NCT and Sheila Kitzinger. I felt brave and added a picture of actual breastfeeding to Kitzinger’s page. I think she would have wanted that. Briance, Kitzinger and the NCT fought the good fight to allow women to breastfeed without fear, even in public.
I can’t claim any connection with Stella Cartwright, but I created a Wikipedia page for her. I learned about her last night at an event at The Scottish National Galleries: Beyond Artemisia: Women Artists Brought into the Light.
Last year at an event organised by Scottish National Galleries around their ‘Modern Scottish Women’ exhibition I created a page for Anne Finlay.
One of the things both these women have in common is that their biographies include a number of ‘affairs’ with the (more famous, and often married) men in their circle.
Anne has a considerable body of work. The challenge with Stella is to consider whether being a muse, but not an artist in ones own right, is a notable enough contribution to warrant a page. Stella is mentioned in a number of citable sources, but her role is as an inspiration for the work of others. She had an impact on their lives and work, but their pages perhaps do not mention her…..
I am sensitive to the arguments made by Hilary Mantel, that we should not retrospectively make the women in our stories strong and independent, but I do think some of them deserve to be named as notable*.
I have made links for Stella to University of Edinburgh Library archives, and to published articles and resources. I hope that her story will stand the scrutiny of my fellow Wikipedia editors. The page has already been reviewed, so that is good. But the category I created for ‘muse’ has been deleted.
* When I first started editing Wikipedia, when ‘AdaLovelace Day” was being invented, it is worth remembering that most of the discussion behind the scenes on Ada’s page was about the relative worth of her contribution to the work of the better known Babbage.
First of all I’m reading ‘Discover’ magazine from National Library of Scotland. In it there’s an article about Edith Simon. I remember Edith Simon. I look her up in Wikipedia. She has a mere stub of a page. I’m thinking it needs some development and presumably the nice ‘open images ‘ policy at NLS will free up some lovely artwork to include.
Then I ask my excellent mother: ‘How do I know Edith Simon?‘
‘ She was fabulous, Jewish, and she made beautiful paper-cut portraits of your child-hood friends, when they were young, before they died of CF ‘ is the reply.
Her obit says:
‘The qualities of intense discipline, exuberant delight in the world of flesh and objects, and sheer graphic ability involved in these productions are rare enough individually. She had them all, together with considerable intellectual power, literary gifts, charm and a mordant wit. She was striking in appearance, trenchant in her views and generous to the young and those in need. ‘
I can’t add that picture to the wikipedia page because the licence belongs to her daughter Antonia Reeve, but I’m still hoping the NLS will liberate some great images for this fabulous woman.
Feel free to join on in and add or edit for Edith.
If you have ever visited our meeting rooms on Floor E you will have been immersed in an installation by Fabienne Hess.
This installation of images on the glass walls of our meeting rooms in Argyle House is a whole work by Hess, she was commissioned as part of the refurbishment the office spaces to create a work featuring images of existing objects of University collections. Her work exploring the University of Edinburgh’s Collections has spanned across several years and she features in current displays at The Talbot Rice. The process of digitizing, which started in the summer of 2012, has involved photographing almost 25,000 diverse items, from ancient manuscripts to musical instruments, anatomical drawings to historic maps. Throughout the process Fabienne has also created a series of ‘sub-collections’- these groupings, put together in arbitrary themes such as those images containing a red dot, those featuring a person raising an arm, a triangular shape, a certain shade of blue, create a fascinating set of ‘new’ collections. One of these new collections is the installation you are in. Did you notice?
In addition to more editing and inspired by Kirsty, I am also looking forward to hosting an intern, in conjunction with colleagues in Centre for Research Collections to look at the metadata which describes our images so that the women ( and others) are more easily found!
I created a Wikipedia page for Ruth Adler, because I saw her on Ewan’s list of ‘women in red’ (women notable enough to need Wikipedia pages but yet have none). I remember Ruth from my childhood in Edinburgh. Her kids went to the same school as me. She was also prominent in many of the causes in which my mother was involved and her name was mentioned in our house many times.
In creating the page I learned how impressive she really was and how much she did. I’m pleased University of Edinburgh recognise her.
We have welcomed some excellent speakers as part of our commitment to raising understanding of equality and diversity issues in our workplace. It has been particularly interesting to have academic colleagues present the most up to date data from their research and describe how their work influences public policy development in Scotland.
Our speakers this year have been Barbara Melville (Equate Scotland) on the language of job ads; Morna Simpson introducing Girl Geek Scotland; Professor Sheila Riddell (Chair in Inclusion and Diversity) on disability data and employment and Dr Tom Callard (UoE Business School) on managerial perspectives. ISG directors have also considered initiatives for apprenticeships, ‘Women Returners’ projects and we have become an institutional sponsor of Geek Girl Scotland.
For our next event the PlayFair Steps team have partnered with Fathers Network Scotland – a national charity who specialise in creating dad-friendly workplaces – to facilitate a short focus group specifically for ISG. Research has consistently shown that one of the key groups missing from discussions on gender equality are fathers in the workplace. Dads at work also need to feel supported in combining their work with their family commitments. This focus group will explore the key areas in which you believe could be addressed at work to support work-life balance.
We have also recently announced the appointment of the new Director of Software Development and Application. There will now be three ( that’s three!) women at Director level. I think that might be a record.
It was lovely to see you all at #OER16 in Edinburgh. It was a great personal pleasure to host the conference and to listen to the papers and speakers. For me it provided an excellent excuse to have so many friends and colleagues here.
When Lorna and I passed across to next year’s chairs it was a relief to know that the conference will survive and thrive for another year.
I gave the last keynote, the one usually punctuated by the poorly stifled sound of wheely suitcases escaping from the back of the room. Jim, Catherine, Emma and John are hard acts to follow.
One of the benefits of being the last keynote is that the many flavors of openness had already been rehearsed and debated by other people in the room. And that many of my excellent Edinburgh colleagues had already covered the detail of our services and projects. The keynote offered me a chance to reflect on the themes of the conference and why it made sense to have it in Edinburgh.
If you get a chance to watch all the keynotes, which I hope you will, you will see 5 very different people in very different jobs/contexts taking different approaches to identifying the value proposition for open. But none of them are doing it alone. That’s the beauty of the thing.
It is a source of great pleasure for me that in recent years the celebrations of International Women’s Day have co-incided nicely with Open Education Week. This makes it easy for me to find authentic and useful things to do as my contribution.
I don’t find it difficult to see connections between feminism and open education movements. Both seek to give equality of access, challenge traditional structures and ways of doing things; and involve a diverse community of people in thinking about the greater good. Both also have outspoken advocates with strong opinions and sometimes end up arguing amongst themselves. Nonethless it’s been a fun week.
Monday: I ate retro sweets with Charlie and Susie near our #OpenEducationWk display stand and attended the launch of Jo and Peta’s Dangerous Women Project to which I have contributed a blog post to be published later in the year.
Tuesday: On IWD2016 I spent some enjoyable time searching the digital archive of Spare Rib at the British Library to find images to use in my OER16 keynote. I was surprised to find that Spare Rib itself is not particularly well described in Wikipedia, so I spent some time on that too. I added a section on design to continue the #artandfeminism theme.
It seems to me that the big libraries are missing a trick if they are spending time making digitised collections open to the public and not taking a moment more to get a good article on the topic in Wikipedia. They probably need a Wikimedian in Residence.
Thursday: I worked with Dominique, our ISG gender equality intern to refine once more our ISG gender equality plan and with Sonia, Yujia, Susan and Lauren to edit the ’embracing openness’ double page spread for our upcoming BITS magazine.
Friday: Today I am working from home, fortified by jam by Anne-Marie and coffee warmed by Maggie’s bespoke knitwear. I see that all but one of the women artists we were editing on Saturday now have their own wikipedia page, and Lorna, Viv and Catherine are giving it a bit of welly in an ALT OER-SIG webinar to promote our April conference.